Mississauga-based Temporal Power is regarded as one of Canada’s most promising young renewable energy companies. It has completed one project for Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), and is in the process of delivering a second, larger facility. In 2014, the company was named Company of the Year by the Ontario Energy Association.
But Temporal’s real challenge is to break into the global export market where its biggest growth opportunities lie. President and CEO, Eric Murray, knows that won’t be easy, but has already learned valuable lessons from the company’s first foray overseas.
In October last year, Temporal signed an agreement with the government of the Caribbean nation of Aruba for the installation of a 5MW flywheel energy storage system, which is the first phase of a two-phase deployment on the island. Aruba is aiming to produce 100 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and Temporal’s technology will help it achieve that goal.
At the core of the Temporal Power system is an all-steel flywheel, which is a mechanical battery that stores kinetic energy in a rotating mass. Temporal has taken the flywheel concept, which has been around since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and applied leading-edge technology such as magnetic levitation and vacuum chamber operation to deliver a highly efficient energy storage solution. These innovations position Temporal as having the highest energy commercial flywheel in the world.
The flywheels are used to improve power quality, maintain grid stability, and facilitate increased adoption of renewable generation on electric grids by more accurately balancing energy on power systems. The company is supported by major investors including Enbridge and Northwater Capital.
Last year, the U.S. consulting firm, Energy Guidance Group (EGG), named Temporal as one of the utility industry’s 10 most influential disruptors. EGG noted that Temporal’s flywheels are a fraction of the price of those of its competitors because they are manufactured from recycled steel rather than the more expensive carbon fibre, and store 50 times more energy than traditional flywheel technologies.
Temporal was introduced to the Aruba export opportunity by another Ontario clean tech company. With no previous experience in the export market, and facing unfamiliar banking, legal, and construction regulations, Murray knew that the company needed outside support to deliver their solution effectively and satisfy the customer.
“There were issues related to foreign exchange, payment timing, banking and legal recourse, and other guarantees” says Murray. “As an emerging company we don’t have internal resources and expertise to master these issues and didn’t have the time to learn on the job as a larger company would.”
That’s when he turned to Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Trade Commissioner Service for support. “EDC’s support put us on an equal footing with any large multi-national,” says Murray.
“Our first effort was geared towards Aruba, but any time a team puts that much energy towards one of these big deals they want to retain the learnings and use them again,” says Murray. We aimed to standardize the process so that we could use it again in future export deals. We’ve used it once more so far, and have every intention of leveraging our efforts many times in the future”.
And exports are definitely where he sees Temporal’s future.
“By definition, we will be successful if we’re an exporter. I don’t think that’s an overstatement. We’ve made a number of strategic hires in the past few months to support our growth, and have every intention of continuing this trend. While our success is intimately linked to success at home in Canada, the domestic market is not big enough to ensure our success. Cleantech is a global game, and winning with the right partners is everything as the market matures,” says Murray.